Football: Tribe is shut out for second-straight week in home-opener

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Dedmon and the Tribe threatened to score multiple times, but the College still lost 23-0 to the Raiders. COURTESY PHOTO / TRIBE ATHLETICS.

After two blowout losses against Virginia Tech and James Madison, William and Mary opened its home schedule with a matchup against 24th-ranked Colgate at Zable Stadium. The Tribe was looking to win its second game against a Patriot League opponent this season, after a 14-7 victory over Bucknell in its season-opener. The College’s offense, averaging only 10.3 points per game, would be tested by the Raiders’ defense which was giving up 6.7 points per game going into their game with the College. Early turnovers by the College (1-3, 0-1 Colonial Athletic Association) undermined its defense’s ability to hold the Raiders (4-0, 2-0 Patriot League) to field goals in the red zone and the Raiders cruised to a 23-0 victory over the College.

“We played against a very good team,” head coach Jimmye Laycock said. “They took advantage of a number of our mistakes.”

The College was forced to take on the Raiders’ vaunted defense on the firsts possession of the game. The Tribe ran the ball on the opening two plays of the drive before converting on third down on a pass by sophomore quarterback Shon Mitchell to junior wide receiver Jalen Christian. However, on the next play, Mitchell fumbled on a hard hit by linebacker T.J. Holl. The Raiders recovered the fumble and took over at the College’s 21-yard line. Despite forcing the Raiders into two third-downs, the Tribe gave up a touchdown on the sixth play of the short scoring drive. With 10:08 to play in the opening quarter, the Raiders took a 7-0 lead on a one-yard run by running back Alex Mathews.

Despite a 19-yard screen pass to senior wide receiver DeVonte Dedmon, the Tribe’s second drive of the opening quarter stalled and the College punted the ball away for the first time in the game, pinning the Raiders inside their 10-yard line to start their second drive of the evening. The Raiders marched 83 yards downfield, but the College stood tall and prevented them from picking up their second touchdown of the first quarter. Nevertheless, kicker Chris Puzzi drilled a 26-yard field goal to extend the Raiders’ advantage to 10-0 with 1:36 remaining in the first quarter.

On the first play of the second quarter, Dedmon had another long reception, but he fumbled inside the Raiders’ 40-yard line and the Raiders recovered the ball at the 32-yard line, ending the College’s third drive and giving the Raiders decent field position to start their possession. Once again, the Raiders scored off of the Tribe’s fumble. Wide receiver Owen Buscaglia was a huge part of the drive for the Raiders with two receptions for 52 yards. The Raiders ultimately had to settle for a field goal to keep the game within two possessions at 13-0 with 11:18 to play before halftime.

The Tribe seemed destined for a three-and-out before senior wide receiver Jack Armstrong caught a pass from Mitchell and picked up 20 yards on a third-and-long. After a 15-yard penalty on the Raiders for a late hit on Armstrong, the College’s run game picked up and moved the ball into the red zone for the first time this game. However, the drive stalled and junior kicker Kris Hooper missed a 31-yard field goal, keeping the score at 13-0. The College finally stopped the Raiders and forced them into their first punt of the game, but the Tribe was flagged for a roughing the punter penalty, allowing the Raiders drive to continue. Nevertheless, the College still stopped the Raiders after forcing their first turnover of the game.

After another scoreless drive, the Tribe allowed the Raiders to get within field goal range. Puzzi converted on his third field goal attempt of the game, this time from 47 yards out to put the Raiders up 16-0 at the half.

Colgate got the ball to start the second half and marched down the field for their second touchdown of the game. The College forced the Raiders into a fourth down attempt at the two-yard line, but they went for it and picked up the necessary yardage. The Raiders scored on the ensuing play to seize a commanding 23-0 lead with 10:20 remaining in the third quarter.

The College drove deep into Raiders territory for the second time in the game, but once again the Tribe failed to come away with any points. The College held the ball for nearly eight minutes, but after extending the drive on a fourth-down conversion, Mitchell’s pass on the second fourth down of the drive fell incomplete in the end zone and the Raiders took over at their own seven-yard line with less than three minutes to play in the third quarter.

“We prepare each week to win,” Mitchell said. “Win or lose, that’s on us. We have to be more consistent and produce better.”

Early in the fourth quarter, the College failed to convert on a fourth-down in Raiders territory once again. Mitchell had Christian wide open in the middle of the field, but the Mitchell’s pass sailed over his head and the Raiders took over on downs. On its next drive, the College turned the ball over for the third time on the evening, this time on Mitchell’s first interception. Defensive back Abu Daramy-Swaray intercepted the pass and returned it to the College’s 48-yard line. Despite threatening to score on several occasions, the College was still shut out for the second consecutive week and only has 31 points in its first four games this season. The Tribe ultimately fell 23-0 to Raiders.

“I never felt like we were outmatched, I felt like were going against a good team, but I didn’t feel like we were outmatched,” Laycock said.

The Raiders were led in victory by quarterback Grant Breneman’s 227 yards on 16-for-22 passing. Buscaglia torched the College’s defense with seven catches for 142 yards. The College were led by junior running back Albert Funderburke’s 53 yards on the ground and Dedmon’s 104 yards receiving. Mitchell was 27-for-39 passing for 251 yards.

Next week, the Tribe will stay in Williamsburg for its second-straight game at home. The College will take on Albany for its second CAA game of the season. The Tribe will look to pick up its first conference victory of the season and score for the first time since Sept. 8.  

“It’s good to be staying at home,” Laycock said. “They’re in the CAA, so that’s about all you need to know [to know] that they’re pretty good.”